Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas and is a candidate for President of the United States. He is an excellent writer. He has something to say. His moral compass is pointed in the right direction. He is highly intelligent, but in a folksy way. I think he has the best chance of any Republican to win the general election. I have bought 4 of his 5 books, and am happy with them all.
Huckabee is not quite so shrill when he urges us to contemplate the long-term consequences of our actions, both in our own lives and in the lives of others. His book, however, quickly degenerates into aimless collection random platitudes, trite stories, and dumb jokes - with each chapter followed by "Questions for Reflection and Discussion," as if Huckabee's thoughts really were profound enough to warrant much discussion.
For the most part they are not. Perhaps the "Questions for Reflection and Discussion" indicate that the book is meant for church study groups. For the average reader, they don't add much.
There is some real wisdom here. For example: "The real job of leaders is to make others successful rather than using others to make themselves successful." (p. 109). I can't argue with that.
And I have to agree with Huckabee that we should think deeply about the consequences of our actions. "We make choices that have consequences for a lifetime," Huckabee observes, and "if we believe there is even a remote possibility that something about life matters because of the lasting implications our actions have, this should cause us to think differently, live differently, and leave a different kind of legacy." (p. 7-8). "It is how we live that will affect generations to come and countless people whose names we don't even know." (p. 13).
This kind of circumspection, and focus on the consequences of our actions, is something one might expect from a Buddhist sage. "Suffering is inevitable for a human being," Huckabee writes, echoing the Buddha's observations concerning impermanence and suffering. (p. 150). Huckabee even echoes the Buddha on suffering's cause and cure: "A sense of real peace is achieved only when you can say that material things are genuinely immaterial." (p. 160).
But Mike Huckabee is no bodhisattva. And, to tell the truth, one quickly suspects that Huckabee doesn't really mean much of what he says.
Huckabee minces no words, as he distances himself from politicians who campaign for office by means of personal attacks and innuendo:
* "A politician who seeks to win an election by destroying the reputation of his opponents will eventually die by the sword." (p. 30).
* "It is a big mistake for people of integrity and faith to believe that they advance their cause by destroying the competition." (p. 31).
* "Truly successful people are more critical of themselves than they are of others." (p. 33).
* "Although attacking others will sometimes work with voters, it will not work as we stand before God's judgment seat." (pp. 34).
Huckabee portrays himself as a man of pure principles, above the mudslinging fray. Yet running for his party's presidential nomination, the Baptist minister quickly demonstrated a proclivity for very sort of character assassination and innuendo that his book condemns. In an interview with Zev Chafets, for example, Huckabee derided Mitt Romney's religion: "'Don't Mormons,' he asked in an innocent voice, 'believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers.'" (New York Times Magazine, Dec. 16, 2007, p.70).
Soon after, Huckabee was in Iowa, rolling out a press conference to call attention to his own campaign ad attacking Mitt Romney's integrity and honesty. Huckabee took the stage to announce that he was taking the high road, and that his conscience would not permit him to run the attack on Mitt Romney's character. But he was pleased to play it for journalists in attendance, who were welcome to run the ad as a "news item," getting Huckabee's character assassination on the airwaves for free.
"Thus also Cicero, in one of his invectives: 'I do not mention my adversary's scandalous gluttony and drunkenness, I take no notice of his brutal lusts, I say not a syllable of his treachery, malice, and cruelty.'" (A Course Of Lectures On Oratory And Criticism p. 121).
No, not a syllable. Huckabee's attack ad ended: "If a man's dishonest to obtain a job, he'll be dishonest when he gets the job." Well, I guess Huckabee should know.
"Even when we pretend to be humble," Huckabee writes in his book, "there are those moments in which our true nature bursts forth." (p. 43). Huckabee's a press conference to publicize his ad attacking Mitt Romney may have been one such moment. His carefully polished humility and air of decency turned out to be sheer pretence.
In fact, much about Huckabee appears to be pretense. "I do not call for our government to determine what people can or can't believe or what they can or can't see," Huckabee declares at one point in his book, seeking perhaps to allay concerns that the Southern Baptist minister intends to impose his own brand of morality as law. (p. 48). But a few pages later, Huckabee's arguing that he has every right to do just that. While some may contend "that private morals are private and not the domain of government," Huckabee insists that he knows better, and that "a stronger argument can be made that the public has the right to determine what is in the best interest of all citizens." (p. 51). "Citizens do, in fact, have the right to determine what we consider appropriate as a society," declares the evangelical minister, who feels qualified to declare what's best for the rest of us. (p. 51).
Mike Huckabee's books are real treasures. Mike may be a politician - but he is first a person who is committed to his faith and living our his faith. Living Beyond Your Lifetime is an awesome book describing how to order your life by choosing Bible-based principles. Even if you are not a Christian, the principles ring true. Contrary to the mindset of our self-driven culture, Mike presents Bible-based principles which places the needs of others before our own agenda. The book is a captivating, easy read with "Questions for Reflection and Discussion" at the end of each chapter.